Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed President Duterte’s advice to Myanmar State Counsellor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to ignore the worsening human rights crisis hounding her country.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said Duterte apparently wanted to influence fellow leaders from other countries to emulate his style of promoting violence while disregarding human rights.
“Duterte seems to be no longer contented to merely limiting his anti-human rights position within the Philippines. He now appears to be interested in exporting it to other countries,” she said in a Dispatch from Crame No. 236.
According to news reports, Duterte counselled Aung San Suu Kyi to ignore human rights advocates calling on the Myanmar government to stop its ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims during the ASEAN summit held in New Delhi.
Touted as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, about 1.3 million Rohingya in Myanmar were subjected to oppressive restrictions, denying them citizenship despite many having roots going back generations.
The former chairperson of the Senate justice committee warned Duterte to be careful with his words because he could be facing future charges by exporting criminal conduct, such as encouraging ethnic cleansing and the rape and murder of minorities.
“He (Duterte) might not wish to add [another crime] to his list of crimes that might soon be attended to by the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” she said.
“As of the moment, his crimes might be limited to the Filipino people. Once he goes international, he might find himself branded under international law as an enemy of mankind,” she added.
While Duterte enjoys his impunity from all the human rights abuses he perpetrated, De Lima lamented that “only the Filipino people will have to carry the international embarrassment of having their leader step on the world stage and humiliate not only the United Nations’ core principles, but also the UN itself.”
The Senator from Bicol said the least that her countrymen can do is to remind their international friends that Duterte does not represent the Filipinos when he encourages other world leaders to ignore human rights.
Last December, De Lima has urged her Senate colleagues to express serious concerns over the Rohingya crisis, stressing that it is their duty to uphold the country’s commitment in promoting human rights and the international humanitarian law.
She also expressed serious reservation over the Philippine government’s “no” vote on the United Nations draft resolution calling for full and unhindered humanitarian aid access to Rakhine and for Myanmar to grant full citizenship rights to Rohingya Muslims.
De Lima maintained that like Myanmar, Philippines is also hounded by human rights issues which escalated when Duterte, who promotes violence as crime prevention, launched his all-out war on drugs last year.